When You Should Worry About Breast Pain

Breast Pain With Muscle Weakness/Numbness Breast pain along with muscle weakness, tingling, or numbness in the chest or upper limbs is a situation that warrants immediate… Alli Anderson - September 12, 2023

Breast Pain With Muscle Weakness/Numbness

Breast pain along with muscle weakness, tingling, or numbness in the chest or upper limbs is a situation that warrants immediate attention. These combined symptoms may indicate potential nerve compression or other neurological issues that should not be overlooked. Breast pain can have a lot of causes and is not always associated with breast cancer. Sometimes, it can be caused by a pulled muscle in your chest wall. This is also called extra-mammary pain.

While breast pain can have various causes, the presence of associated muscle weakness or sensory changes is particularly concerning. Nerve compression, whether due to structural issues or other underlying conditions, could be a contributing factor. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation in such cases. They can conduct a comprehensive assessment, which may include imaging studies or nerve function tests, to pinpoint the underlying cause of these symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan.


Breast Pain That Is Not Related To Hormonal Fluctuations

Noncyclic breast pain, unlike its cyclical counterpart tied to the menstrual cycle, doesn’t play by those monthly hormonal rules. It can show up whenever it pleases and hang around for a while or just drop by for a quick visit. Interestingly, stress and anxiety can be troublemakers here, too, teaming up with noncyclic breast pain to make life a bit more complicated. This type of breast pain doesn’t discriminate; it can affect women both before and after menopause, reminding us that our bodies have a knack for throwing curveballs.

Now, there’s a whole list of potential suspects when it comes to noncyclic breast pain. One of the top culprits is infection, with conditions like mastitis or abscesses taking the spotlight. Mastitis often makes an appearance in breastfeeding moms, but it’s not exclusive to them—it can happen to anyone. But wait, there’s more. Noncyclic breast pain can also be linked to PMS, fibrocystic breast changes, injuries, sprains, or even some inflammation around the ribs. Sometimes, sneaky cysts or infections can be the ones pulling the strings behind the scenes. So, when your breasts decide to throw a little noncyclic party, it’s a good idea to let a healthcare pro do some detective work to figure out the cause and help you find relief.


Breast Pain With Unexplained Fever

We’ve already mentioned mastitis a time or two in this article. But if you have an unexplained fever accompanied with breast pain, the most likely culprit is mastitis. Mastitis, an inflammation of breast tissue that may involve an infection, presents a range of uncomfortable symptoms, regardless of whether an individual is breastfeeding or not. While it most commonly affects lactating women, it can also occur in non-breastfeeding women. In non-breastfeeding women, mastitis primarily develops when the breast becomes infected. This infection can be the consequence of various factors, including damage to the nipple, such as a cracked or sore nipple, or even a nipple piercing. However, it can also arise in the presence of underlying conditions that affect the body’s immune system or its ability to combat infections.

In both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding scenarios, mastitis can lead to distressing symptoms, such as breast pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and, occasionally, flu-like manifestations such as body aches and fever. There could also be a possibility of cellulitis. When faced with these symptoms, it is essential to be attentive and seek medical attention promptly. Regardless of the underlying cause, whether related to breastfeeding issues or other factors impacting the immune system, appropriate care and intervention are crucial for addressing mastitis effectively and ensuring a swift return to comfort and well-being.


Rash on Breast Skin With Pain

Shingles, a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, can indeed result in breast pain among its array of symptoms. This condition occurs when the virus, which causes chickenpox during its initial infection, reactivates later in life. When shingles strikes, it often presents as a painful, blistering rash that typically appears in a distinct pattern on the skin, following the path of a nerve. In the case of breast pain, this rash can emerge on the breast or in the surrounding chest area. The pain associated with shingles is often described as burning, sharp, or shooting, and it can be intense and unrelenting. The rash itself is characterized by fluid-filled blisters that eventually crust over as they heal, contributing to the discomfort and sensitivity in the affected region.

Shingles-induced breast pain can be excruciating and persistent, making it essential to seek medical attention for diagnosis and treatment. The condition can affect individuals of all ages, but it is more common in older adults and those with weakened immune systems. Timely intervention, often involving antiviral medications and pain management strategies, can help alleviate the pain and reduce the duration of the outbreak. It’s crucial to address shingles promptly to mitigate the risk of long-term pain complications known as postherpetic neuralgia, which can persist for months or even years after the rash has healed.


Unexplained Breast Bruising

Sometimes, you might notice a small area on your breast that looks red, pink, or even purple, resembling a bruise. It’s easy to dismiss it as a minor concern, but it’s essential not to underestimate such changes in your breast’s appearance. Breast redness can be a classic symptom of a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer. This type of cancer can initially present with skin changes, making it appear as though you have a bruise on your breast. While unexplained bruising on the breast might not necessarily signal cancer, it’s a symptom that should not be ignored. Early detection and medical evaluation are crucial in addressing any unusual breast changes promptly.

On the topic of bruising, it can occur when tiny blood vessels beneath the skin rupture, causing blood to leak and collect. In the context of the breast, hematomas are collections of blood that can form due to damage to larger blood vessels. While hematomas can develop without any apparent injury, they are often linked to trauma or surgical procedures involving the breast, including cosmetic surgery, gender-affirming (top) surgery, and reconstructive procedures following cancer treatment. The good news is that hematomas typically resolve on their own over time, without requiring specific treatment. However, any unexplained changes in your breast’s appearance or the presence of a breast bruise should be discussed with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying concerns and ensure your breast health.


Family History of Breast Cancer

Your risk of developing breast cancer may be higher if a close relative, such as a mother, sister, or daughter, has had breast cancer at a young age. In such cases, it might be advisable to consider genetic testing to assess your genetic risk factors. Genetic testing is a straightforward process, typically involving a blood test that is often covered by most insurance companies. While the testing itself is relatively simple, the decision to undergo genetic testing is significant and requires careful consideration. It’s essential to weigh the potential implications of the test results on various aspects of your life, including your health, career, and family.

Starting with genetic counseling is a wise step for anyone who suspects they might carry a gene that increases the risk of cancer. This process can help you understand the significance of genetic testing and its potential impact on your well-being and family members. Guidelines for who should undergo genetic testing may evolve over time. Typically, your doctor may recommend it if a close family member has tested positive for carrying a mutated gene, you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, or other specific factors apply, such as Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry or multiple cases of breast cancer within your family.

Genetic testing may begin with a family member already diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, and if they test positive for a mutation, other family members can be tested to determine their risk. However, if no one in the family carries the mutation, the test is considered non-informative and cannot identify at-risk family members.